QB Joey Bradley wins Portuguese title, signs with Poland’s Gdynia Seahawks

Quarterback Joey Bradley had won his second straight Portuguese championship earlier in April with the Lisboa Devils when the Gdynia Seahawks came calling. They were struggling and looking for a replacement for their offensive coordinator and quarterback and Bradley with a 21 game unbeaten streak in Portugal over two years and who was still in Europe looked like a perfect choice.

The 6’1″, 185 lb Bradley from Seattle (Issaquah), Washington was nominated for the Harlon Hill award at the University of New Haven (Div. II) after throwing for 2,652 yards and 20 touchdowns in his senior year.

American Football International caught up with Joey after he won his first game with the Seahawks, a 55-0 whitewashing of the Wroclaw Outlaws.

American Football International: This is your second year in Europe and now you have won 2 championships in Portugal. Why the move to Poland?

Joey Bradley: In my mind I was always open to offers once my season in Portugal finished, I just wasn’t sure if they would come or not; it takes a special scenario. After last season, I played one game with the Reus Imperials in Spain and it was a great experience, so I knew there was a possibility of something similar this year, especially since our Portuguese season finished earlier than last year. The Seahawks were in a bit of a unique situation and I’m glad that it all worked out the way it did. I have only been here in Gdynia for less than two weeks, but I’ve really enjoyed my time here so far.

AFI: How did you find your way to Europe and Portugal last year?

Bradley: That’s a good question. I was planning on playing in Europe after college, but initially was thinking Germany, as I had been in contact with a few teams there. I had graduated and moved home, gotten a (bad) job, and just wasn’t happy with how my life was going in the States. The Devils contacted me during one of my worst times personally and I took it as a sign. All of my friends who had done Euro-trips raved about Lisbon, so I knew at least the city was going to be great, and more importantly I would get to leave the States in October, rather than wait until March, if I had went to Germany. The contract was very bleak, but I decided to risk it, with hopes of signing somewhere else after our season ended.

AFI: What was your experience like in Portugal with the Lisbon Devils?

Bradley: I can honestly say that the decision to move to Lisboa and play for the Devils was the best decision of my life thus far. Those guys are my brothers for life, no doubt. It’s cliche, but Lisboa just feels like home to me. Obviously, winning 21 consecutive games in Portugal including back-to-back National Championships always sweetens the deal, and 300 days of sunshine per year doesn’t hurt either. This season Collin Franklin and I took Portuguese classes and now I am at a very beginner level, but am able to have conversations with people (as long as they speak slowly) and that has just made the experience even better, as you get to connect with so many more people. From a football stand-point, it was also a huge growth period for me, as I was the OC and really got to learn how to coach, game plan, and call my own plays through trial and error.

AFI: How did you end up landing in Poland so quickly after the Portuguese season ended?

Bradley: The Universe works in mysterious ways. I had spoken with the Seahawks a little bit before the Portuguese Championship game, then once that was over, they made the decision that they wanted to bring me in, offered me a deal, and bam, I was there the next week. Because they were mid-season, the whole situation was very time sensitive. From the beginning, I just had a good feeling about it and was really excited for the challenge/opportunity ahead.

AFI: What was your best experience in Portugal?

Bradley: That’s tough, the obvious answer is winning two championships. But Portugal is a special place, that I still need to explore more of. I would say my best experience there was just my everyday life. I became a regular at a cafe, had random friends throughout my neighborhood that I would see all the time and say hi to, and I became very familiar with the city, which is amazing. On top of all of that, I was surrounded by a great group of teammates who loved football and embraced me like I was their family.

AFI: What has become your favorite food in Europe?

Bradley: I’m not that big of a food guy, but if I had one meal to eat in Europe, that’s an easy answer. Chicken Curry Baguette with homemade soup and fresh lemonade from Pão Pão Queijo Queijo in Belem. Then after get an espresso and a Pastel de Nata from Manteigaria in Chiado (better than Pastel de Belem).

AFI: How would you compare the football in Portugal and Poland?

Bradley: Frankly, the football in Poland is more advanced. The main difference that strikes you right away is the size of the guys in the box; it’s very similar to college football in the States. Guys have been playing longer as well, so they’re a little more savvy in terms of the strategy side of the game. Also, as a whole, things are more organized and after one game, I can say the refereeing is definitely better. With all of that said, I think Portuguese football is extremely underrated in Europe, especially for it only being in it’s 7th season. For example, last year in Champions League, we beat a team from Turkey, who ended up barely losing in the Turkish national championship without their import QB. The glaring similarity though is in both places, guys love to play football, and that is what it’s all about.

AFI: What do you bring to the Seahawks?

Bradley: I bring a winning attitude, and extreme dedication to helping the team get better and win games. As a QB, I am a guy who can make all of the reads/throws, and run when I need to. And as an OC, I am a guy who can help improve knowledge and understanding of the game from a fundamental and strategic standpoint in a positive way.

AFI: What are your expectations?

Bradley: As a competitor, I don’t go into any situation expecting to do anything besides win. To win the championship here it will take an insane amount of hard work, but if that is not the goal, then why play?

Additional thoughts:

“Would just like to thank you guys at AFI as it gives a great, and much needed, platform for American Football in Europe and around the world. The US already knows that football is the greatest sport in the world, and slowly, the rest of the world is starting to figure that out too. I mean.. people have to get tired of soccer eventually :)”

Interested in playing American football in overseas?

Register on Europlayers.com.

Europlayers is the largest online database of American football players, teams and coaches.  It is a connector, bringing together and introducing athletes to overseas teams. On the site you can begin researching teams around the world.  Once you create a profile, you become searchable by hundreds of American football clubs around the world.

Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.